February 3, 2023
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will distribute 500,000 free airline tickets to woo visitors “from every part of the world” to visit the financial hub in a bid to revive the battered economy and boost its global image.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu announced the project on Thursday during the launch of the global promotional campaign Hello Hong Kong, saying that the giveaway is “the world’s biggest welcome ever”.
“Hong Kong is now seamlessly connected to the Chinese mainland and the whole international world,” Lee said in his welcome remarks. “Attracting arrivals across the globe will help reinvigorate Hong Kong’s economy.”
The city’s leader highlighted a slew of mega sports and art events in the coming months, including the Hong Kong Marathon and Art Basel, and introduced iconic cultural places such as the West Kowloon Cultural District.
“We are inviting prominent guests from business heavyweights and leaders in the political sector to meet the chiefs and influencers to come to Hong Kong and see for themselves the welcoming atmosphere,” he said.
At a news briefing after the ceremony, Airport Authority CEO Fred Lam Tin-fuk said that the free airline tickets will be given out via overseas offices and agents of three local airlines — Cathay Pacific, HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines — in their major markets. The giveaway will start on March 1 and last for six months.
Based on the pre-pandemic data of inbound arrivals, about three-quarters of the tickets will be distributed to Asian visitors. First will be Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, followed by Northeast Asian nations and the Chinese mainland.
An additional 80,000 free air tickets will be given to Hong Kong residents while another 80,000 will be dispersed to visitors from the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Lam said.
Dane Cheng Ting-yat, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said at least one million gifts, or “Hong Kong Goodies”, are given to tourists, who can redeem them for free “welcome drinks” and get discounts off tourism, retail, catering and transportation expenses.